Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 5 Issue: 44

Chechens held demonstrations on November 25-26 to protest the abduction of a resident of the village of Alkhan-Yurt in Chechnya’s Urus-Martan district by unknown armed persons in the early hours of November 25. The Kavkazky Uzel website, citing the Russian-Chechen Friendship Society, reported on November 25 that twenty armed men entered Alkhan Yurt in three cars after passing along a road dotted with federal checkpoints. The kidnappers, who were wearing masks and camouflage, kidnapped Ayub Turluev, an inspector in the investigation branch of the Russian Justice Ministry’s penal directorate in Chechnya. Turluev’s relatives reported that the raiders struck Turluev’s father several times with a pistol butt and demanded the keys to Turluev’s car, to which they then led Turluev. His sister grabbed hold of the clothing of one of the kidnappers in an apparent attempt to prevent her brother from being driven away, but was knocked away with a rifle butt. After Turluev was put in the car, the kidnappers tied his sister and mother to the bumper and drove off, dragging the women some 20 meters before driving out of the village. Turluev’s mother was afterwards hospitalized in serious condition. The kidnappers reportedly also stole a video camera, a cell phone, gold jewelry and 4,000 rubles (around US$140) from the Turluev home.

On the morning of November 25, Turluev’s father tried to report the kidnapping to the offices of the Achkoi-Martan district prosecutor, but officials there refused to take his statement, warning him about filing false reports and asking him to “remember” that the kidnappers were separatist fighters. Turluev’s father, however, insisted that the kidnappers were members of the power structure, given that they had been able to pass through federal checkpoints with no problem. He was subsequently able to file a report with the local police.

Meanwhile, a large number of residents of Alkhan-Yurt and nearby villages, including some local law-enforcers, gathered to protest the kidnapping, blocking the Rostov-Baku federal highway. Military and police units including armored vehicles arrived on the scene – as did, according to local residents, Chechen Deputy Prime Minister Ramzan Kadyrov, who listened silently to their complaints and left without saying anything. Around noon the security forces began to break up the demonstration, beating some people, including Turluev’s brother, and reportedly even hitting some protesters with police cars.

On November 26, Kavkazky Uzel, again citing the Russian-Chechen Friendship Society, reported that local inhabitants had that morning resumed demonstrations demanding Ayub Turluev’s release, once again blocking off the section of the Rostov-Baku highway that passes through Alkhan-Yurt. The website reported that security forces again tried to break up the protest, this time ramming a car through part of the crowd and breaking the legs of a local policeman. A number of demonstrators ceased protesting after the Urus-Martan district prosecutor Anatoly Smirnov promised to launch a criminal probe into the Turluev’s kidnapping, brief his relatives on the investigation, and apprehend the kidnappers.

In August 2003, residents of Alkhan-Yurt blocked the Rostov-Baku highway as part of a large protest, joined by inhabitants of neighboring villages and districts, against zachistki, or cleansing operations, that involved arbitrary detentions and the burning of houses.

Meanwhile, a Chechen Interior Ministry source told RIA Novosti on November 26 that at exactly the same time Ayub Turluev was kidnapped in Alkhan-Yurt, five people dressed in camouflage broke into the house of another official of the Russian Justice Ministry’s penal directorate, this time in the Groznensky district settlement of Petropavlovskaya. The raiders, who were brandishing automatic weapons, kidnapped the official’s son.